Help customers understand how water costs are calculated

Simulator is a great way for bill-payers to understand the services that their money pays for – and to provide you with informed feedback about their preferences.

Making sense of water rates for customers

The rates customers pay for their water depend on multiple factors, many of which are effectively a mystery to the public. With increasing demand due to rising populations, and resources at risk of loss through unpredictable environmental factors, the way that we process and supply water is changing – and with it, so must the costs. But most customers will only see the impact on their bill, without understanding the reasons behind these adjustments.

Simulator is a powerful way to simply and clearly demonstrate the many inputs that must be balanced when calculating water rates. It gives consumers a direct insight into the trade-offs that may be considered in a bid to meet an increased demand at a fair price pint.

Interactive tools to inform and gauge public priorities

In the search for engaging, accessible ways to connect with their customers, utilities providers and regulators around the world have chosen Simulator to get public input on the services they oversee.

Simulator is an online interactive prioritisation tool that lets people explore the balance of the costs and benefits of their utilities services for themselves.

Respondents can experiment with various possible permutations – getting to see what the likely impact of different choices would be and to understand the trade-offs at play.

Over 100 organisations have used Simulator to engage citizens in this way, on issues such as utilities bills, price reviews, possible infrastructure investment and Strategic Plans.

Price Plan consultation for South East Water, Australia

South East Water is a metropolitan water retailer to Melbourne, Australia. In 2017, they submitted a draft Water and Sewerage Price Plan for 2018-2023. Water rates aren't exactly the most popular of bills, and consumers are often frustrated at the costs involved.

In an effort to try and increase public understanding of costing decisions and the associated process, South East Water undertook a huge consultation and engagement effort with the public surrounding the draft Plan.

South East Water complemented traditional engagement approaches with Simulator, and the results and participation rates overwhelmingly exceeded their expectations.

This phase of their engagement process was remarkably successful, garnering more contributions than all the other phases combined. Over 90 per cent of respondents took the time to provide additional detail to just moving the sliders, including free text comments and demographic information, resulting in a wealth of meaningful data and feedback.

Over 5,690 customers were directly involved in South East Water's 14 month program, nearly 4,000 of which chose Simulator as their preferred way to have their say.

One of the challenges we had was understanding residents' willingness to pay for changes and what trade-offs, if any, they might make – Simulator provided a great way for us to do this.

Simulator not only made this phase of the engagement easier and cost-effective for us, the participation rates and feedback indicate it was appreciated by our customers too – now that's value for everyone.

Beverley de Kretser – South East Water, Australia

Raise awareness of your services

Simulator gets people to weigh up the real choices and trade-offs involved in improving utilities services and infrastructure. It helps turn 'wish-lists' into considered preferences, with people thinking carefully about which things are most important to them.

Build understanding for the choices at hand

Simulator makes people more well-informed via the process of participation. By making the trade-offs necessary to balance resources themselves, respondents gain a new appreciation of the complexities involved.

Customer-led price review for Yarra Valley Water

As a water corporation, Yarra Valley Water were obligated to make a price submission to the Essential Services Commission. They wanted to demonstrate that they had listened to the concerns and expectations of their customers as part of this process – so they used Simulator to collect feedback online.

Yarra Valley Water used a Bill Simulator model – where participants could adjust spending across different service packages, seeing the direct impact on their bill. This meant respondents could articulate precisely the balance of how much they would be happy to pay for the quality of service they wanted.

1.8 million+ customers were invited to take part in prioritising services, with the option to improve or decrease specific service groups which would have an overall impact on their estimated bill for the year. The deliberative process provided the corporation with valuable insight into their customers' priorities – and also ensured that this input was considered, informed and realistic.

We embarked on one of the most comprehensive customer engagement initiatives the Australian water industry has ever seen. The outcomes have provided a platform to ensure we have a clear understanding of our customers’ needs and expectations.

Price review report, Yarra Valley Water

Make difficult decisions easier to understand

Complex information is made clearer and more navigable by interactivity. Simulator lets people adjust simple sliders and see real-time feedback through points and consequences, giving them a hands-on grasp of the issues.

Your public engagement activity needs to be two-way: listening to people as well as informing them. Simulator gives you usable data about people's priorities, which can shape your plans.

Get an accurate model

Set up Simulator to reflect the realities of your situation. Create a capped financial budget, set an emissions target or let people allocate prioritisation points.

Stay on top of everything

Control your Simulator quickly and easily with at-a-glance dashboards and settings. Access headline statistics whenever you want to monitor progress.

Generate detailed analysis

Dig into the comprehensive reporting tools to produce insightful findings. Export all data at any time to audit results and run even more analytics.

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